As spring sets in, migratory birds set out for home

With the onset of the spring, thousands of migratory birds are leaving Kashmir daily for their native places.

Tens of thousands of migratory birds every year spend nearly five months of winter in Kashmir wetlands. “This year we had around 11-12 lakh avian visitors from Russian Siberia, China, Eastern Europe and the Philippines,” Ifshan Dewaan, Kashmir wildlife warden (wetland) told Greater Kashmir. “The number this year was more than that of the previous years,” he said.

“Traditionally, these birds come here to ward off the extreme winter cold back home,” she said. “There are about 11 wetlands falling under our jurisdiction including Hokarsar, Haigam, Mirgund, Shallabugh. There are also wetland bird reserves in Pampore. Besides, the birds also stay in Dal and Wullar lakes,” she said.

This year the wildlife department had to arrange feed for the birds when the birds could not fend for themselves in frozen water bodies.

Even as poaching had caused some worry during the past few years, this winter the field staff of the department had increased vigil.  “We increased the vigil, and are conducting regular checks around these wetlands to check the illegal hunting of these birds. We also formed squads to stop this illegal practice of killing migratory birds.” she said.

About the threat of bird flu, she said: “We kept our surveillance teams at different wetlands and also took samples from migratory birds. However, so far no positive case of bird flu was reported here in our jurisdiction,” the wildlife warden told Greater Kashmir

Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Brahminy Duck, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon are some of the most sighted birds in the wetlands of Kashmir.